A newly created remote broadcasting rig set up by East Leeds FM in the UK to keep listeners connected during the COVID-19 pandemic has an Allen & Heath SQ-5 console at its heart.
Although created as an Internet broadcaster, East Leeds FM identified a need to provide information, advice and company over FM radio to vulnerable older residents without Internet access. The station secured a temporary FM license and created a new daily show “Keeping A Distance, Staying Close.”
With presenters and technicians unable to access the station’s regular home at the Chapel FM arts center in Leeds since March, volunteer and former BBC sound engineer Phil Driscoll devised a solution for recording and broadcasting the show. His office has since become the “nerve center” of the organization, handling the live broadcast, external presenters, contributors and interviewees, along with play-out of pre-recorded material and jingles.
The Allen & Heath SQ-5 console, originally purchased for recording brass band performances, is now moonlighting as the main broadcast console, mixing the main program, handling talkback and managing clean feed cue sends to remote contributors.
“The SQ-5 has performed flawlessly. The flexibility of the routing and the multiple mixes has meant that I can configure it to behave like a radio desk, even though it wasn’t designed as one,” Driscoll says. “The trickiest challenge was setting up individual talkbacks to each outside source so that I can talk to contributors without disturbing the presenters on air. With some inspired help from the A&H community forum, I arrived at a solution using mute groups on softkeys which gives me an individual talkback button for each remote source.”
A ZED-420 console is used as the main output desk, with its USB output driving the station’s FM transmitter and webcast. Three smaller studios are set up in presenters’ homes, including one employing a ZED-14 mixer for pre-recording content.
Following the success of “Keeping A Distance, Staying Close,” East Leeds FM has also equipped an additional remote studio with an SQ-5 to broadcast youth-oriented evening shows.